Retirement Traveling – Glacier National Park

After leaving the Rapid City area we resumed our journey to the next place on our list – Glacier National Park. To get there, we did not take the most direct route but decided to drive north through South Dakota and up into North Dakota. The reason we did this is because we still needed three more states to go before we accomplished our bucket list goal of having visited all fifty states. The last three were North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. We really did not spend much time in North Dakota, but did spend some time in Bowman having lunch at Windy’s Bar and Pizza. Good place for burgers, chicken, and pizza. 

Our destination for the night was Cut Bank, Montana. This is a small town where we only stayed long enough to sleep. It was a long day in the car, and it sure felt good to get into our room for some much-needed sleep. We choose this town because it was only about an hour from Glacier. 

The next morning, we got up early so we could arrival at the park around sunrise. We entered through the East Gate entrance and once we drove into the park, we were greeted with some beautiful mountains ahead and a picturesque lake on our left. I had with me my trusty Canon EOS Rebel T7 Camera which I purchased as part of a bundle. Unfortunately it was a little hazy due to the forest fires in California, so the pictures I took didn’t have the detail I was hoping for. In addition to the camera, I highly recommend a good pair of binoculars. I have the Celestron 8×42 DX binoculars and they are great for sight-seeing and wildlife watching. They produce crystal clear images, easy to adjust, lightweight and comfortable to use. With them in hand, you will see up close details you would not see otherwise. 

 

Our trip through Glacier National Park took us on the Going To The Sun road which is paved and fifty miles long. It is a real engineering marvel completed on July 15, 1933. Glacier National Park was established by Congress on May 11, 1910 and is the quintessential route you are not going to want to miss. As we did in other national parks, we used our trusty Gypsy Guide app on our iPhone to guide us through the park and give us information about the places we stopped for pictures. One of our first stops was to Wild Goose Island. The Gypsy Guide informed us that this scenic area was filmed using a fly by and selected as the opening for the movie The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. I really enjoy little bits of trivia like this. As you can see, it absolutely stunning!

 

While visiting Glacier National Park, I was happy to see a glacier! We pulled over and took some pictures of Jackson Glacier. There are only about twenty-five glaciers down from one hundred when the park was originally opened. These glaciers are melting and have an average area loss of 40% during the last 50 years. In fact, due to rising global temperatures, many scientists believe all the glaciers will be gone in the next 20 to 30 years. So if you want to see this park, and I highly recommend you do, visit sooner than later so you can see these magnificent ice fields and the effect they have on the mountain terrain.

 

We continued our drive on the Going to The Sun Road and were truly impressed by the challenge to build such a road on the steep slopes of the mountains. A stone guard rail was constructed that is about two feet high, and it was so well done that the National Park Service used the template to build similar walls in other parks. They also had to do some impressive blasting to create enough room for the road including the West Tunnel which is a testament to these road builders.

Next up was Lake McDonald. Here there is a historic lodge, gift shop, and bathrooms all close by to this very beautiful lake. After having a picnic lunch and doing some sight-seeing, we decided to take a guided boat tour of the lake. We found it interesting when the guide spoke about forest fires and how they shape and renew the area around the lake.

 

We concluded our day in Glacier National Park by heading out the west gate entrance to the town of West Glacier. This entrance is much bigger than the eastern one and is considered the main entrance to Glacier. We continued on route 2 to Kalispell, Montana where we spent the night. Next up on our trip is Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and I will be posting a new article for our adventure in this area.

Hope you have enjoyed the article and if you get a chance, please do yourself a favor and visit this treasure.

Glenn

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